The reality TV star who stumbled into the most powerful job in the world is blindly flailing in all directions. Instead of accepting advice in consideration of his ignorance of the mechanics of governing, Donald Trump has managed to surround himself with family and sycophants. Vowing to drain the swamp, he is instead afloat in corruption. His staff disregards orders that are illegal or dangerous. Professing a love for America and her common men, he has proven his regard for the well off and powerful. Instead of respect for the rule of law, we are expected to accept the word of a serial liar. The president considers himself untouchable and above the law.

Instead of honoring the Congressional oversight duties outlined in the Constitution, the Republican Party bends a knee to an unchecked executive branch out of fear of presidential outbursts. Their identity is completely merged with his. Requests for information necessary to carrying out checks and balances as detailed in the Constitution are ignored.

Although Republicans elevate the Constitution to the level of scripture, they do not care for its actual spirit when it contradicts their dogma. They speak of “original intent” but we must realize that the Founders, who were well-read, innovative people inspired by the possibilities of the enlightenment, intended enough flexibility to serve an expanding, progressing nation.

The news media is branded “fake news.” This is an autocrat’s trick to confuse and cast doubt when confronted with his contradictions. The sense of entitlement infusing the Republican Party from top to bottom creates a sense that differing opinions are unpatriotic, that their sensibility is what is right and correct for the country.

Longtime allies are thrown aside in favor of strongmen and tyrants. Republican leaders have repeatedly betrayed the Kurds to the wolves after they do the bloody work asked of them. Republicans ignore the Russian attack on our elections.

We see echoed in Republican behavior the thinking that dragged us into the Iraq War and the resultant cruelty that took place in Abu Ghraib. Republicans reduce their foes to less than human. We hear a president describe humans as vermin, talk about carnage and “sending her back.” Republican cruelty is apparent in their acceptance of the mistreatment of children and immigrants at the border.

The cruelty that passes for toughness in Trump’s mind causes him to amplify his insecurities and weaknesses with bravado and exaggerated boasting and betrayal of friends.

The same flawed reasoning is seen in Republican insistence on sacrificing American lives for their flawed interpretation of the Second Amendment. Rather than accept reasonable solutions in the face of a gun violence epidemic, they offer thoughts and prayers but no concrete solutions.

We remember that at the height of the AIDS epidemic, Reagan and his party condemned thousands to undergo slow agonizing deaths rather than offer help to alleviate the suffering.

This pattern is repeated in their economic thinking. They refuse to raise the federal minimum wage and ignore the needs of the beleaguered middle class. Upon every return to power, they recycle their disproven “trickle down” economic theories dressed up in rhetoric about personal property and freedom, allowing the 1% to craft their own tax laws and set economic policy. According to the Washington Post, for the first time in history, U.S. billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class last year, Oct. 8); in 2018, the super-rich paid a lower tax rate than the bottom 50%. Masquerading as the “jobs” president, Trump lowers opportunities for the common man by encouraging the economic inequalities in society.

Trump’s cult pays lip service to freedom and patriotism while disrespecting the foundations of democracy. To be truly patriotic, we are expected to be comfortable with unlimited guns, children confined in cages, unlimited lies and permitting the wealthy to rule over society.

In contrast, the spirit of the Four Freedoms outlined by FDR inspired Americans and free people throughout the world in their struggle to overcome fascism and the Great Depression. This promise of a better future and expansion of democracy has been under constant attack by the Republican Party since its inception. FDR outlined four essential human freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom to worship god in our own way, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. These ideals are what the Democratic Party proposes and promotes to expand democratic rights for all men and women. Warren County can demonstrate our Virginia values to the country by making rational, humane choices this fall.

Steve Foreman is a semi-retired long-time Warren County resident, an occasional fisherman, runs a network cabling and project management company and has served as chair of the Warren County Democratic Committee since 2017.